Update Saturday, February 1, 12:30 a.m.: As of 10:41 p.m. Beijing time on January 31, 9,811 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus have been found in China, with 15,238 suspected cases and 213 deaths. 214 individuals have recovered from the virus, which now has two cases in Britain. Italy and Russia both reported new cases, as Thailand and the U.S. confirms first person-to-person transmission in their respective countries. All flights between Italy and China are suspended. Singapore and Mongolia will close their borders with China.
Two major developments occurred today. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a global public health emergency during an emergency committee meeting Thursday afternoon in Geneva. “The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China, but because of what is happing in other countries,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The United States Department of State has issued a Level 4 — Do Not Travel — warning for China, the same level as Iraq. “Do not travel to China due to the novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China. On January 30, the World Health Organization determined the rapidly spreading outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice. Commercial carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China. Those currently in China should consider departing using commercial means. The Department of State has requested that all non-essential U.S. government personnel defer travel to China in light of the novel coronavirus.”
In Beijing, the city government said that all industries not essential to the basic functions of the city nor to efforts to control the virus outbreak should not resume in-office work until Feb 10. This is not a formal extension of the holiday; rather, many employees will work from home until then. The city of Dalian has released a notice that all businesses shall not resume their business activities before 24:00 Feb 9, 2020, except those who are asked by the government to manufacture medical products. In Hong Kong, schools will start on March 2.
Student departures at 2, 4 and 6 a.m. today as we continue our evacuation plans. Each student’s temperature is taken as they are given permission to leave. 7 students will leave tomorrow, and I will be last to leave. @Middlebury students who have left report safe repatriations. pic.twitter.com/1OY9twCzRl
— Benjy Renton (@bhrenton) January 31, 2020
Students who applied to CET’s Taiwan program were notified of their decision last night. I was quoted in the Addison County Independent to discuss how students are reacting to the virus outbreak and options for those in the future.
Currently, seven students remain in our dorm building and will depart tomorrow, February 1. Today we saw the departure of four students and a resident director during the morning and afternoon. Each student has their temperature taken upon checkout and will sign a consent form. The security at the exit gate has been reasonably accommodating for students leaving to the airport. Few lines are at Beijing’s airports and not much has changed in recent days for departure procedures, however students are advised to arrive at the airport at least three hours in advance. While one student’s flight to Los Angeles has been cancelled, we have rebooked him and now all students’ flights are currently on schedule. It’s a quiet night in our dorm building as the final students prepare for repatriation. We had one last takeout dinner. We anticipate no problems with departures tomorrow, currently scheduled to depart campus at 8:20, 10:00 and 12:30, but will continuously monitor the situation.
This will be the last major update from China, though we will possibly continue more updates once on the ground in the U.S. All students are scheduled to arrive before 12:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, February 2. The safety, security and health of all students is of utmost priority and we will work from Beijing, DC and Vermont to ensure a smooth and successful repatriation for all students.